New releases 7/26/16

Top Hits
Barbershop_Next_CutBarbershop: The Next Cut (comedy, Ice Cube. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Movie sequels don’t need — and frequently don’t have — a good reason to exist, other than to take more money from fans. ‘Barbershop: The Next Cut,’ which revives a popular comedy franchise, has plenty of commercial appeal, not least as a kind of hip-hop all-star acting revue, with Common, Tyga and Nicki Minaj joining Ice Cube and Eve, who anchored the original ‘Barbershop.’ That movie was a hit in 2002, and it spawned two earlier sequels and a cable TV series. This comeback feels like the opposite of cynical, though. If anything, it seems unusually urgent. We’re back at the barbershop because there’s an awful lot to talk about.” Read more…)

The Boss (comedy, Melissa McCarthy. Rotten Tomatoes: 22%. Metacritic: 40. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The movie is funny without being much good; mostly, it’s another rung on Ms. McCarthy’s big ladder up. It’s a fitful amalgam of bouncy and slack laughs mixed in with some blasts of pure physical comedy and loads of yammering heads. There isn’t much filmmaking in it, outside of Ms. McCarthy’s precision comedic timing and natural screen presence. But, as it turns out, sometimes it’s pleasurable enough just watching the most unlikely American comedy star since Bill Murray slip into a groove.” Read more…)

Criminal (action, Kevin Costner. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 37. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Hollywood loves to muck with the human brain, and in ‘Criminal’ the beneficiary is Kevin Costner, who gets to deploy a full range of tics and quirks, playing a convict neurally altered in the name of national security. Ariel Vromen has directed a decent, fast-paced action movie, and Mr. Costner is enjoyable to watch as Jerico Stewart, a career criminal reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter: He’s so dangerous and volatile that merely locking him up isn’t sufficient; he also has to be chained into near immobility.” Read more…)

Born_to_be_BlueBorn To Be Blue (Chet Baker music bio-pic, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 64. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘It makes me happy.’ That explanation of his heroin addiction, voiced by the jazz trumpeter and singer Chet Baker [Ethan Hawke] in Robert Budreau’s moody biographical fantasia, ‘Born to Be Blue,’ says it all. The words are uttered without apology in the plaintive tone of a stubborn little boy who insists on having everything his way…In Mr. Hawke’s extraordinary performance, this glamorous enigma becomes a credible, if pathetic character who lives for only two things: to play the trumpet and to shoot heroin.” Read more…)

I Am Wrath (action, John Travolta. Rotten Tomatoes: 13%. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “‘I Am Wrath’ is a revenge movie, and a buddy movie, and a spiritual-crisis movie, and a political corruption movie. That’s a lot of movies — too many, really, and it ends up not doing justice to any of those genres, despite star power at the top of the bill.” Read more…)

Hardcore Henry (action, Tim Roth. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 51. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Written (with assistance from Will Stewart) and directed by Ilya Naishuller, ‘Hardcore Henry’ is, by dint of being noninteractive, kind of a 90-minute live-action cutscene from a first-person-shooter video game. One that is more insane than average, for sure. The perspective is that of a semi-robotic manufactured soldier with no memory and no voice, who’s compelled to protect his wife from a psychotic tech magnate.” Read more…)

Sing Street (music/drama/romance, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 78. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In any case, the charms of ‘Sing Street’ should not be underestimated. Partly because its manner is unassuming and its story none too original — a young man’s coming-of-age amid the chaos of home, the rigidity of school and the riot of stirring hormones and budding ambition — it’s easy to overlook Mr. Carney’s ingenuity and sensitivity. A songwriter himself, he specializes in movies about striving tunesmiths who fuse dreams of glory with the drive for love, connection and authenticity.” Read more…)

New Foreign
L’Attesa aka The Wait (Italy, drama, Juliette Binoche. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘L’Attesa’ [‘The Wait’] Piero Messina’s debut feature, is an elegant melodrama of maternal grief with overtones of horror, a psychological rather than a supernatural ghost story. Set in Sicily around Easter, the film partakes freely of religious imagery to add gravity and mystery to its domestic tale of loss, longing and deceit. The landscape — volcanic rock and quiet forests surrounding a sparkling lake — is captured in long, wide takes, a beauty surpassed only by close-ups of the two lead actresses, Juliette Binoche and Lou de Laâge.” Read more…)

River (Laos, drama, Rossif Sutherland. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Deadline-U.S.A. (1952, film noir, Humphrey Bogart. From Bosley Crowther’s 1952 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “That old bad boy, Humphrey Bogart, is working our side of the street in Twentieth Century-Fox’ and Richard Brooks’ ‘Deadline, U. S. A.’ In this entangled melodrama, which came to the Roxy yesterday, the old tough is breathing fire and brimstone, as he has often done before, and the virulence of his aggression is bringing compounded trouble on his head. But he is doing so as a fighting champion of a free and invincible press. And, by George, the honesty of the effort rates a newspaper man’s applause.” Read more…)

Pioneers_African_American_CinemaPioneers of African-American Cinema (5-disc, 20-hour collection of “race films” from the 1920s-1940s, Oscar Micheaux. In an article about this set in the New York times, critic J. Hoberman wrote, “From the perspective of cinema history — and American history, for that matter — there has never been a more significant video release than ‘Pioneers of African-American Cinema,’ a five-disc collection funded with a Kickstarter campaign and released by Kino Lorber on Blu-ray and DVD. The set is devoted to the so-called race movies that featured all-black casts and were largely made by black filmmakers for black audiences beginning around World War I and continuing through the mid-20th century. This was the first alternative American cinema, the precursor to today’s independent films… Packaged with an informative 76-page booklet, “Pioneers” warrants a place in every American educational institution.” Read more…)

Short video promoting Kino-Lorber’s Kickstarter fundraising campaign that led to the completion of “Pioneers of African-American Cinema”:

New American Back Catalog (post-960)
Evils of the Night (1985, sic-fi/romp, John Carradine)

New British
Jack Irish: Season 1 (Australia, crime drama series, Guy Pearce)
Jack Irish: The Movies (Australia, crime drama)

New Documentaries
Winding_StreamThe Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes & The Course of Country Music (music history, Johnny Cash. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “American royalty gets a well-deserved encomium in Beth Harrington’s fond documentary, ‘The Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes & The Course of Country Music.’ Thoughtfully assembled to showcase the music and the temperaments behind it, this jam-packed oral history of the Carter and Cash families weaves the voices of prominent musicians [Sheryl Crow, George Jones] with those of family members past and present. Leading us from Poor Valley, Va. — where the seventh generation of Carters still attends the church that its patriarch, A.P., built in 1906 — through decades of personal and professional landmarks, Ms. Harrington sweeps divorce, disappointment and the Great Depression into a single, upbeat package.” Read more…)

The Russian Woodpecker (Chernobyl, Soviet politics. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 74. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “In Chad Gracia’s ‘The Russian Woodpecker,’ a Kiev theater designer, Fedor Alexandrovich, investigates his shocking hypothesis connecting a mammoth missile-alert structure near Chernobyl to the 1986 nuclear disaster there. Whatever the facts, Mr. Gracia’s messily structured film works best as a document of fear in today’s Ukraine and as a kind of ghost story about the Soviet Union.” Read more…)